2011 year end review for JBM-HH
January 5, 2012
By Jim Dresbach
Around Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Mother Nature could easily be chosen person of the year for 2011.
Natural disasters, the remembrance of the tenth anniversary of America's worst terrorist attack and a list of change in commands and retirements surrounded the base's schedule of pomp, ceremony and day-to-day life.
In August, an earthquake followed by tropical storm force rain and wind from Hurricane Irene left an impression -- both physically and mentally -- on the base, its staff and servicemembers. The following events, divided by seasons, were the highlights of 2011 at JBM-HH.
Col. Carl R. Coffman, JBM-HH commander, passed the ceremonial saber of change of responsibility to Command Sgt. Maj. Necati Akpinar on Jan. 19. Akpinar, who is originally from Hanak, Turkey, enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1990. He feels he is fortunate that his transition to work on the installation has been made easier by a helpful civilian staff.
"When I got here, I'd never worked with civilians before, so I didn't know what to expect," Akpinar explained. "Since then, I've got my feet wet and realized there's no difference in military and civilians because we're working for the same team. We have outstanding people here who take great pride in their jobs. That makes it easy."
On Feb. 23, the Marine Corps Memorial was the site for a wreath-laying ceremony for the 66th anniversary of the flag-raising on Iwo Jima's Mount Suribachi. The ceremony was hosted by The Marine Corps War Memorial Foundation.
As the winter chill began to thaw, a 20-year tradition was renewed inside Brucker Hall as The U.S. Army Band, "Pershing's Own," hosted a trombone workshop and concerts in mid-March. The four-day get together included competitions, master classes and exhibits. Earlier in the winter, from Jan. 26 through 29, the 2011 tuba-euphonium workshop was also held at the home of The U.S. Army Band.
While Middle Eastern countries were attempting to evolve autocratic governments into democracies during the Arab Spring, Navy Seals successfully hunted and killed wanted Taliban leader Osama bin Laden.
At JBM-HH's Summerall Field on June 3, Maj. Gen. Michael S. Linnington assumed command of Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region and the U.S. Army Military District of Washington.
Just days before the Linnington change of command, the graves and amphitheater of Arlington and the Memorial Day holiday weekend gained national prominence. Starting on May 26, members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) mustered and placed close to 300,000 American flags on servicemembers' final resting places. Five days later, President Barack Obama honored those fallen in battle with a wreath-laying and remarks delivered at the ANC Memorial Amphitheater.
"Our nation owes a debt to its fallen heroes that we can never fully repay," Obama said during this past Memorial Day observation.
"Our nation owes a debt to its fallen heroes that we can never fully repay," Obama said during this past Memorial Day observation. The president added, "but we can honor their sacrifice, and we must. We must honor it in our own lives by holding their memories close to our hearts, and heeding the example they set."
On May 16 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the two nations of the People's Republic of China and the United States banded together for a joint musical concert entitled, "Friendship and Cooperation through Music."
The JBM-HH -- based "Pershing's Own," and the Military Band of the People's Liberation Army of China performed three sets including the final selections where both bands jointly performed both American and Chinese musical favorites like "Stars and Stripes Forever" and "Ode to Motherland."
The Army celebrated its 236th birthday on June 14 with an outdoor cake-cutting ceremony attended by JBM-HH Commander Col. Coffman, Command Sgt. Maj. Akpinar and Noncommissioned Officer of the Year Staff Sgt. David Howell.
In the first series of an overall building renovation which will continue into 2012, an Old Post Chapel renovation replaced and repaired pipes from the pipe organ. The first contract for repairs cost about $175,000.
The warm-weather weeks and months were the busiest times for news on JBM-HH, and one of the biggest stories the successive natural one-two punch from the earth and sky when the ground under Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall was shaken then soaked by a pair of natural phenomena.
A 5.8 level earthquake rattled JBM-HH chimneys and walls on Aug. 23. Minimal damage included cracked plaster and loose bricks, but the newsworthiness of the earthquake that was warranted was due not to the severity of such phenomena but to its rarity in National Capital Region.
The quake caught a Bldg. 59 briefing meeting by surprise during that summer afternoon. Many JBM-HH Soldiers and staffers will never forget their whereabouts when the Virginia-based quake began.
"We were in a staff meeting and we were having some annual training," JBM-HH Deputy Joint Base Commander Lt. Col. Jennifer L. Blair remembered. "The building started shaking. I thought somebody was wrestling upstairs. My first reaction was I was going to get up and tell them to chill out."
Department staff riding out the precipitation from Hurricane Irene. Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) filled sandbags at Fort McNair's low-lying areas.
Another JBM-HH presidential visit occurred Aug. 31 when Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama took part in Gen. David Petraeus' retirement ceremony on Summerall Field. On July 8, Lt. Col. Eric B. Fleming assumed command of Headquarters Command Battalion, and Col. Ira M. Cheatham took the reins of Command Headquarters and Service Battalion, Headquarters Marine Corps, Henderson Hall July 14.
"The opportunity to lead Marines is what every Marine wants to do," Cheatham recently reflected about his assumption of duties. "It doesn't matter where the command is when you get an opportunity to be a commander, you jump at [that chance]."
The U.S. Army Band, "Pershing's Own" also welcomed a new commander on Aug. 17. Col. Thomas H. Palmatier became the musician in charge during a Brucker Hall ceremony.
The final moments of summer came to a close with the base witnessing its second of the year "Ride 2 Recovery" bicycle tour on Sept. 18. A week after America commemorated the tenth anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attacks at the Pentagon, servicemember cyclists and retired bicyclists cruised to a halt at the Department of Defense headquarters and later held a post-ride reception at JBM-HH's Community Center. The first R2R ride took place during Memorial Day weekend.
The warm months also officially introduced Soldiers to new living quarters. Barracks Bldg. 421 was opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on July 26 while JBM-HH's Bldg. 249 was officially declared complete Oct. 27 during a damp and rainy ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The Bill Clinton presidential administration era said farewell to its Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Friday, Oct. 7.
Retired Gen. John Shalikashvili, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was eulogized by former Secretary of State Madeline Albright and Clinton during a funeral service at JBM-HH's Memorial Chapel. Burial followed in section 30 of Arlington National Cemetery. Shalikashvili passed away in July.
Two road races, the Army Ten-Miler and the Marine Corps Marathon, dotted the calendar during the month of October. The MCM was hampered by icy bridges and overpasses while the ATM crowned 27-year old Tesfaye Sendeku the overall champion at the conclusion of the Oct. 9 race.
Staying with sports, the ESPN television show, "SportsNation," broadcasted live from JBM-HH's Whipple Field Nov. 8, and the hour-long program saluted all military personnel and veterans. Soldiers from base and MDW led the way with an assortment of signs showing allegiances to pro and amateur sports teams.
Two days before the ESPN event, the Southgate Road extension officially opened to JBM-HH traffic. The road, complete after a half year of construction, was designed to ease on-base as well as off-base traffic patterns.
JBM-HH and other Military District of Washington installations discontinued the issuance of vehicle decals and registering vehicles Nov. 5. The decision to eliminate the registration and decal display -- known as DD Form 2220 -- was made partially due to the redundancy of information technology systems in place at most post gates.
Just after JBM-HH Marines celebrated the Corps' birthday Nov. 10 and in time for the holiday shopping season, the Marine Corps Exchange unveiled its new store look during a grand opening weekend gala from Nov. 17-20.